Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said Wednesday he will extend tax filing deadlines for victims of the Marshall fire, which tore through Boulder County last week.
State officials are also partnering with local and federal governments to offer a wide variety of short-term recovery resources including housing assistance, unemployment insurance, mental health counseling and more. Polis cabinet members within his administration outlined many of those resources during a Wednesday morning news conference at the state Capitol.
The governor urged victims to head to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Recovery Center at 1755 South Public Road in Lafayette to learn which options are available to them.
At the center, federal, state, local officials alongside nonprofits and insurance agents can help victims find and pay for temporary housing, clothing, groceries, phone chargers, pet food and more.
“Whatever you need,” Polis said. “You don’t even have to know what you need when you show up.”
“Your home doesn’t have to be lost or even damaged,” he added.
First, Polis said he’ll offer Coloradans hurt by the fire and within the larger fire area identified by FEMA more time to file their taxes and he’ll extend payment deadlines. That extended deadlines will mirror a the federal tax extension also offered to victims. More information on those extensions can be found at tax.colorado.gov, he said.
Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera then outlined efforts to offer counseling for victims.
“It would be impossible to overstate the impact this tragedy will have on mental health,” Primavera said.
Crisis counselors, counseling, stress management and emotional support are all available through the state’s Crisis Counseling Program, she said. Mental health experts can be reached at 303-413-6282, 1-844-493-8255 or by texting “talk” to 38255.
“Reach out if you need help, this isn’t a burden you should have to shoulder yourself,” Primavera said. “You are not alone.”
While victims are seeking short-term assistance, it’s also crucial that they begin filing insurance claims, said Insurance Commissioner Mike Conway. Hundreds already have, he said.
For those who lost their homes, state law requires insurance companies to cover 30% of the value of the contents in their homes, Conway said. That money can help them rebuild their lives, buying computers to get back to work and other necessities.
Conway also encouraged victims to keep all of their receipts, no matter how innocuous, and document their properties before and after any repairs they make.
Those who need help navigating the insurance system can call 303-894-7490 or email [email protected], Conway said.
At the same time, those who lost work because of the fire are eligible for up to 26 weeks of unemployment benefits, said Department of Labor and Employment Director Joe Barela. Even those who are self-employed qualify. Although they must file unemployment claims by Feb. 2, he said.
Claims can be filed at ColoradoUI.gov or by calling 303-318-9000, Barela said.
For longer-term recovery efforts, Polis said he will announce his pick to lead the Marshall fire response in the coming weeks. And as President Joe Biden plans to tour the damage Friday, the governor said he hopes to convey to him the short, medium and long-term needs of the community, especially as it relates to housing and rebuilding.
The Marshall fire sparked Thursday in southeast Boulder County and wasn’t fully contained until Monday evening. Spread quickly by fast winds, exacerbated by abnormally dry conditions, the fire quickly became the most devastating in Colorado’s history. Officials estimate the fire destroyed nearly 1,000 homes and businesses. Two people remain missing and are feared dead.
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